Preacher's Pulpit by Dr. Joe Tims

Practical Christianity #1: Friends

Prov 18:24

"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."

INTRODUCTION

Jesus called us to be 'salt' and 'light' in this world. (Mt. 5:13-14) Before we can be 'light' we must first be 'salt'.

That means we are to have an influence.

It is of little value to have the truth of God's Word, and know the way to salvation, if we cannot influence others that they might see the 'light' of the Gospel.

So how do we become a positive witness for Christ with others?

How can we influence others with the Gospel? It begins with an understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning being a friend to others.

Very few of us desire to live the life of a hermit. We want friends, but what happens (especially in a church) is that we gain a certain amount of security in limiting the number of people we allow to become close to us.

We develop a small circle of friends others would refer to that as having 'clicks'.

Unfortunately they would be correct much of the time.

With our small circle of friends we tend to build walls to keep others out rather than bridges to allow others in.

If we are going to be a positive influence for Christ and reach others with the light of the Gospel, we need to build bridges to develop new friendships.

God has given us some principles to guide us in accomplishing this task.

I. Choosing Sides Is A Poor Way To Cultivate Friends.

(Prov 18:18) "The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty."

A. There are always those who want us to choose sides.

1. Especially if you choose their side!

2. This becomes their way of having and keeping friends.

3. If we go this route, we will find that we must choose and choose again.

4. The process is never ending.

B. Building true friendships with such people is nearly impossible.

1. They will use their friendship to get you to make choices against others to prove your allegiance.

2. If you fall into this trap, there will be no escape without alienating others.

C. There are times we need to choose.

1. However, our choices must be based upon the principles established by God's Word, not personal manipulation.

2. Biblical principles are never based upon personalities.

II. The Lord is Our Source for Building Present Friendships and for Reaching New Friends.

A. God desires us to be a friend to others.

1. I have heard some say, "But I am not a people person!"

2. That may be true, but it isn't a valid excuse.

3. One of the great things about being a child of God is that He can change us!

4. Consider for a moment all of the changes that He has made in our livesnow can He change us in the area of making friends?

B. He is our Strength and our Supply.

1. We cannot change ourselves, but God can enable us and bring about the changes necessary in our livesif we will let Him.

2. The beginning of change comes when we get saved.

(2 Cor 5:17) "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

3. This verse doesn't end with salvation, it continues on throughout our lives as God shapes us and conforms us to the image of Christ.

III. Guidelines from Scripture on Friends and Friendship.

A. Make sure of your friends and covet their friendship.

(Prov 6:3) "Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend."

1. What is the biggest problem in building and maintaining friendships?

2. Our selfish pride!

3. Humility acknowledges that we need friends, and there is an emptiness in our lives without them.

B. Understand that a friend's love is a very real strength in our hour of adversity.

(Prov 17:17) "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

1. God never intended for us to have to go it alone.

2. We need each other and others need us.

(Eccl 4:9 10) "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. {10} For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."

C. Sacrifices are willingly made by friends for their friends.

1. The Lord is our supreme illustration of this truth.

(John 15:13) "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

2. There are many sacrifices made in a relationship.

3. That is the nature of friendship.

4. It isn't self centered, but always looks to others.

5. Someone has said that 'Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.'

6. If one is unwilling to 'do' for another, then they are unwilling to 'be' a friend.

D. How can we increase our friendliness?

1. Decide in our hearts that we will love people.

2. Smile when we look at people and continue smiling.

3. Be gracious and happy to see a familiar face.

4. Talk pleasantly not dominating the conversation.

5. Avoid the inclination to think that we are always right.

6. Do for others without expecting them to return the favor.

7. Pray that God would make us friendly.

(Prov 18:24) "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."

CONCLUSION:

Do we want to influence people with the message of Christ?

Are we willing to be a true friend?

What is the condition of our present friendships?

Are we actively looking to build new bridges that God might use us?

(James 4:17) "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."